game of thrones season finale 1

Last week’s penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season 6 was a surprisingly optimistic hour for a show that generally likes to drag its heroes through the mud before chopping their heads off. For the first time in a long time, maybe even ever, things were kind-of, sort-of, looking up for the more traditional heroes. There’s still a lot of war left to fight and winter is still coming and there’s still an army of the dead amassing in the north, but hey, everyone is Westeros should take whatever little victory they can get.

Game of Thrones season finales tend to act as an hour of clean-up, tying up the loose ends from the typically cataclysmic episode nines while laying the ground work for whatever comes next. So let’s peruse the batch of stills from the final episode of 2016, titled “The Winds of Winter,” and do what fans of this show do best: speculate wildly into the wind.

Spoilers are going to fly fast and loose from this point onward. You’ve been warned. Why are you even reading this if you aren’t caught up? Anyway, here’s the typically brisk and vague preview for next week’s episode, just in case you missed it on Sunday:

Let’s run down each of these images one by one.

game of thrones season finale 6

Last week’s “Battle of the Bastards” may have been a victory for House Stark (and for Littlefinger’s Knights of the Vale), but it was hard-won and devastating and not the kind of thing that leaves the survivors smiling. While Jon Snow and Sansa Stark now have a new web to navigate now that Rickon and and Ramsay Bolton are dead, Ser Davos appears to be dealing with some unfinished business. It’s no accident that we saw him pull Shireen Baratheon’s wooden stag from the remains of that pyre last week. The Onion Knight hasn’t liked Melisandre from the start and the fiery execution of the little girl he loved as a surrogate daughter isn’t something he takes lightly. Now that Davos has helped guide the Starks back into Winterfell, he is in the ideal position to ask his new leader to deal with the Red Witch in their midst.

game of thrones season finale 5

Hey, Bran’s back! The last time we saw the now-youngest Stark boy (R.I.P, Rickon), he had just evaded an army of Wights with an assistance from his long lost Uncle Benjen. Hopefully, he’ll have more to do here then just pop up to remind us he exists. If we’re lucky, maybe he’ll take us back in time to the Tower of Joy and actually follow Ned Stark up those steps…

game of thrones season finale 4

Last week, we finally got to see Daenerys and Tyrion finally combine their particular skill sets and it was spectacular. Dany’s whole “fire and blood” approach gelled well with Tyrion’s wily political machinations and they looked nothing short of unstoppable. With a Westeros invasion finally on the horizon (it only took six seasons), these two will have an awful lot to talk about.

game of thrones season finale 3

On the scale of one to Ned Star, just how doomed is Loras Tyrell? He’s apparently so doomed that actor Finn Jones was able to take the lead role in Marvel’s upcoming Iron Fist series. The season finale will finally see Loras and Cersei Lannister go on trial before the High Sparrow, but the Queen Mother definitely has something up her sleeve (Loras may be expendable, but Cersei is cockroach-like in her survivability). Could her machinations with Qyburn involve the wildfire the Mad King hid underneath the city years earlier? After all, it’s been brought up several times this season.

game of thrones season finale 2

The Lannister forces are still marching through the Riverlands after kicking the remnants of Hosue Tully out of Riverrun. The most important thing to take away from this image is the presence of Bronn riding alongside Jaime at the front of the line. Few characters are as welcome on my television as Bronn.

game of thrones season finale 1

And now we know where Jaime is marching in the previous image: he’s off to meet with Walder Frey at the Twins, bringing one of the most loathsome character on this show back into the spotlight. Since House Lannister and House Frey are staunch allies, it’s unlikely that Frey is in any danger…which is a damn shame.

“The Winds of Winter” airs this Sunday on HBO. And then the long wait until 2017 begins.

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